Do Indoor Plants Really Improve Air Quality?

Putting some plants in your house or workplace has some health benefits. They help create a relaxed and happy ambience, which can reduce stress and improve your concentration.

Another benefit of indoor plants is lower levels of pollutants, such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene in the air. This is according to a study conducted by NASA in 1989, according to mindbodygreen.

However, indoor plants are actually unable to absorb all toxic agents floating in your place. A new study suggests that people overestimated the air purifying effects of houseplants.

Researchers analyzed 30 years worth of data from more than a dozen studies that looked into the air-purifying properties of plants. One of the key findings of the review is that NASA's clean air study had limitations. 

The space agency tested plants in a sealed chamber lab and not in a house or office building. NASA did not determine whether plants would have the same effects in a realistic indoor environment. 

"This is certainly an example of how scientific findings can be misleading or misinterpreted over time," Michael Waring, a professor at Drexel College of Engineering, said. "But it's also a great example of how scientific research should continually reexamine and question findings to get closer to the ground truth of understanding what's actually happening around us." 

The new study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, suggests that many of the past air quality studies had the same problem. It also found that ventilation systems in homes and buildings, like air conditioning systems and open windows, are the ones that clean the air, not indoor plants. 

"Typical for these studies, a potted plant was placed in a sealed chamber (often with a volume of a cubic meter or smaller), into which a single volatile organic compound (VOC) was injected, and its decay was tracked over the course of many hours or days," the researchers from Drexel College of Engineering in Philadelphia said.

However, the team noted that people should keep their plants at home or workplace. Indoor plants can help clean the air but it will take a very, very long time. 

To purify the air as fast as an air conditioning system, people should place 10 to 1,000 plants per square meter of floor space. So just continue watering and talking to your favorite plant in the morning and enjoy the greenery they provide to your place. 

Indoor plants A new study found that indoor plants have little effects on the air quality at home or in the office. Pixabay